Get to Know the Winning Wines of Languedoc Icon Gerard Bertrand #winophiles

LPr%FzOxSjexlIe2VJCWmAAre you familiar with a region of France called the Languedoc (pronounced lahng-uh-dock)? It’s smack at the center of the south of France and there is a man there who has built a veritable empire of wine: Gérard Bertrand. My first encounter with Monsieur Bertrand’s wines was in January 2018, when the French Winophiles focused on wines from the region and the sample box contained a bottle of Gérard Bertrand 2014 Corbieres, a GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) that I loved (big, bold and juicy but balanced, with a bit of restraint – not a blowsy-wowsy show-off wine).

Since then, bottles of his wine seem to jump off store shelves and wine lists at me, and they are always delicious.

Thanks to the French Winophiles group, I received a bottle of 2018 Domaine de Cigalus White from Gérard Bertrand, and I went a little nuts over it. But first, let’s explore a few burning questions about the man and his wines.

What’s the Story with Monsieur Bertrand? He is one of a kind! He was born in 1965, and had a brilliant career as a rugby player from 1984 to 1994. After his father died in 1987, Gérard took over the family’s Villemajou wine estate, and in 1992, he went all-in, establishing his own wine company under his own name.

He has acquired one vineyard after another, gradually building an empire across the region.

map
Map courtesy of Gérard Bertrand

What Type of Wines Does He Make? Oof, a lot! Reds, whites, rosés, sparkling wines – he does it all! And you know what? He does them well. This post would be crazy long if I listed all the grapes and wines, but you can find single varietal wines as well as blends, ranging in price from $16 for his popular Côte des Roses rosé (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) to well over $200 for his Clos d’Ora Rhône blend (GSM + Carignan). And you know what else he makes? Jon Bon Jovi and Jesse Bon Jovi’s rosé called Diving Into Hampton Water (about $20) and it’s really good.

Biodynamic farming is an important value of M. Bertrand, and he pays close attention to detail. I love biodynamic wines, because I really think they do express the terroir – you can taste the place.

Let’s talk a little about the Domaine Cigalus 2018. I tasted it before reading anything about it, and my reactions were as follow: “Hmmmm… I taste oak… it tastes creamy, like ripe peaches wrapped in edible satin.” It slid right over my tongue like magic. Chardonnay? Then I took another sip. “Wait a minute! There’s some zippy acidity going on … my mouth is watering — Sauvignon Blanc? Hold on .. hold on … is Viognier at this party too? I taste apricot and honey… what the hell is happening here?”

Well, I’ll tell you what’s happening – all three of those grapes are in this bottle of wine! Come on! That’s crazy! But M. Bertrand is nothing if not innovative and somewhat of a trendsetter, so that’s what it is – a white blend, of Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, with 70% of it aged in new oak and 30% of it aged in steel vats. It’s freaking delicious!

What to Eat With This Domaine de Cigalus Wine? Oh, Lord. This was somewhat of a shit-show, but I’m going to share the good, the bad and the ugly with you. I’ll start with the bad: whole roasted cauliflower.

WFT6aw7sQGKuFisJV0ejMQI was dying of curiosity about a recipe I’d read in Milk Street magazine for whole roasted cauliflower seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper and olive oil. So I made it. And it was … disappointing. Bland. Bah! I think that food writer had to have been tripping when he tasted it in some romantic Israeli café. So now it’s Tuesday night at 8:15 and I got nothing.Bw8udpgyRW201T%yABX0aA

Until … a dive into the cupboard revealed … wait for it… boxed mac n’ cheese. Yep. I thought about it. Held the box in my hand. Thought … “well, this wine is on the rich side, with a nice weight to it … it is practically begging for something with some richness to it … ” and that is how the mac n’ cheese pairing happened.

And you know what? Perfection! Amy’s Organic white cheddar shells ‘n cheese ($1.19 a box) with a beautiful, biodynamic white blend from Gerard Bertrand ($51.99 on wine.com). The chewy, al dente texture of the tiny pasta shells with the salty (and a little peppery as you can see) richness of the cheese sauce stood up like a French chateau to this wine: proud and elegant. It’s fun to pair high-low wines and foods.

fullsizeoutput_12c3And since I exercised some serious restraint, I still had some wine left the other night and just for fun, paired it with a goat-cheese and beet salad and that worked really well, too! I had roasted beets in the fridge, some good lettuce, walnuts (which I lightly candied in a sauté pan with a little butter and sugar), fresh goat cheese from Gretta’s Goats and drizzled it with white wine vinegar, walnut oil and a shake of salt. Really good. That creamy goat cheese and the walnuts brought it all together with the wine.But

Take a look at the Languedoc section of your wine shop and see if a bottle of Gerard Bertrand doesn’t jump into your cart. I think you’ll like it!

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17 comments

  1. LOL, this post is solid gold and so much fun to read. That whole roasted cauliflower does sound a bit odd, so I’m so glad you pointed that out. I just love that the pairing worked so well with a good ‘ol box of mac’n cheese. But it was also organic so a fitful pairing with a biodynamic wine!

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  2. Great pairing ideas that everyone can do and enjoy. The roasted whole cauliflower is a thing now! This Cigalus seems to go so well with cheesy dishes. You pair this wine with all vegetarian dishes too!

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  3. First your description of tasting this wine is perfection (I need to get a bottle). Next, thank you for sharing your pairings, the good and the bad. I will avoid the roasted cauliflower (it was on my list, and I can cross it off now). Here’s to Amy’s! And lastly, thank you for inspiration for that bag of walnuts on my counter. I have been just tossing them on salads and feeling a little bland about it. They need to be candied! I can do that! Thanks for a great piece and for making my lunch a little happier!

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  4. I know cauliflower was the “it” vegetable recently, but honestly cauliflower needs help, like cheese! Good pivot to a cheesy box of mac n cheese! As always your posts are so entertaining to read and make me laugh out loud😊

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  5. Thanks for keeping it real! Who doesn’t go rooting around the cupboards from time to time? Good ol’ mac and cheese is bound to please – and with a wine like this one, how can you go wrong? Cheers!

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  6. Love your description of first tasting Cigalus- Hum, wait, zippy! OK, the whole roasted cauliflower… I get that it can be bland. I have a recipe that I think would be a bang with Cigalus. I’ll email it to you (and Robin), it sits on Romesco and then some. Cheers to Cigalus, mac n cheese, and Bertrand wines!

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  7. Great description of the wine! I’m so sorry that the whole-roasted cauliflower was bland — that’s really tood bad. I’ve I had a few versions that were bang’n. (Lynn’s version above with Romesco sounds awesome too!) The rest of the pairings sound really delicious!

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